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Liew 1 Xiang Xiang Liew English 77 Professor Klimaszewski Term Paper Assignment 5 May 2009 The Role of Perspective

Shifting in the Portrayal of the Romantic Relationship Between Sue and Maud The romantic attraction between Sue and Maud is a central element driving the plot of Fingersmith, serving as one of the main sources of conflict. The way the novel is written leads the reader to become emotionally invested in this romantic relationship; consequently, he or she experiences heightened emotional responses towards the conflict created by the dynamics of the relationship between Sue and Maud, as well as the eventual resolution of the relationship. The fact that the novel succeeds in compelling the reader to become emotionally invested in the romantic relationship is striking, given the problematic nature of the relationship between Sue and Maud. The first part of the novel revolves around Sues attempts to get Maud to agree to marry Gentleman in secret so that he can lock her up in an insane asylum and take possession of her fortune. The second part is narrated from Mauds perspective, who is revealed to be in league with Gentleman, and focuses on her ultimate plan to incarcerate Sue in the insane asylum under her identity. The very existence of their relationship is due to the fact that Sue wishes to cause grievous harm to Maud in order to benefit herself and vice versa. The novel does not let the reader forget this fact, as both characters clearly acknowledge their ultimate motivations when they are narrating; this effect becomes increasingly prominent during Mauds narration, as she is aware of and regularly refers to Sues ulterior motives as well as her own.

Liew 2 How, then, does the reader come to accept their romantic relationship, even though to a certain extent the relationship is based on lies and deception? What elements cause the reader to accept the validity of their feelings for each other, given that they proceed with their plans even after they are aware of their romantic attraction to each other? I argue that it is the presentation of certain key events from both Sues and Mauds perspectives, especially the events during the period starting from Sues arrival at Briar House up until her incarceration in the insane asylum, that leads the reader to sympathize with their romantic feelings for each other despite the fact both are actively working towards the others downfall. The discrepancies, additional insights, and points of congruence between the two characters representations of the same events have the effect of dealing with the problematic aspects of their relationship in ways that help the reader to find their mutual attraction more believable and convincing. In the following paragraphs, I will analyze in detail the process the author goes through in order to accomplish the above effect. The main problem limiting the readers capacity to sympathize with the two main female characters romantic feelings for each other is, as mentioned above, the fact that they are deliberately attempting to destroy each others lives and plan to benefit from their efforts; Maud, in fact, partially succeeds in her plot. The author deals with this problem in stages. First, Waters establishes Sues attraction to Maud by presenting the reader with Sues perspective on events in the first part of the novel. The author accomplishes this by directing the focus of the narrative away from the suffering of the perceived victim, Maud, as well as the fact that Sue never seriously considers giving up the plan, and draws the readers attention to Sues guilt, her attraction to Maud, the way she cares for Maud, and her rationalization of the actions that she thinks will cause Maud to be incarcerated in the insane asylum. The author takes care to set the scene for the development of Sues attraction to and sympathy for Maud starting from the very first meeting between the two main characters, where Sue exhibits a distinct lack of true delight when she thinks that Maud is definitely falling into their trap. She does chuckle and rub her hands when she thinks of how their plan is going to succeed and of the reward of three thousand pounds,

Liew 3 but she immediately goes on to say that she thinks about it in a discontented sort of way; and the chuckle [is] rather forced, which implies that she does not enjoy tricking Maud in this manner (Waters, 75). However, Sue states that she does not know why she feels this way, and consequently attributes it to the gloom of the house, which seems, at least at first glance, to undermine the impression that Sue is feeling guilty about her plot to harm Maud (75). Nevertheless, Sue follows up that statement by explaining that the gloom and the fact the house [seems] darker and stiller than ever is because Maud is gone (75). This implies that Sue enjoys Mauds presence and finds it depressing that Maud has left. This early, subtle hinting at Sues attraction to Maud makes the subsequent development of their romantic relationship more believable and convincing to the reader. Overall, this scene of their very first meeting, especially the depiction of Sues discontentment and her forced chuckle, sets the tone for future scenes depicting Sues sympathy for Maud, and effectively encourages the reader to think of Sue not as a heartless criminal, but a person who is capable of feeling guilt and discomfort at her own bad deeds. Throughout the first part of the novel, the directing of the focus away from Sues criminal actions and towards her feelings for Maud has the effect of encouraging the reader to sympathize with Sue and her attraction to Maud. Moreover, through Sues eyes, the reader perceives Maud as reciprocating Sues affections. Mauds reaction to Sues kiss, from Sues perspective, hints that she is indeed sexually attracted to Sue. Mauds shifts automatically bring her body and her mouth coming closer to Sues, like she [cannot] help it (150). Moreover, on the night of Mauds and Gentlemans wedding night, Maud initiates sexual contact with Sue: She kept her fingers upon my head and pushed my mouth too hard against hers; and she seized my hand and took it, first to her bosom, then to where the blankets dipped, between her legs. There she rubbed with my fingers until they burned. (169)

Liew 4 Therefore, at this point in the novel, it seems that a mutual attraction exists between them and the reader is able to sympathize with their romantic feelings for each other. However, the readers conception of Maud and her romantic relationship with Sue is completely destroyed at the end of the first part of the novel when the author reveals that Maud is in fact working with Gentleman to commit Sue to the insane asylum in her place. The revelation of Maud as a villain forces the reader to re-examine his or her view of Maud and to question the sincerity of Mauds romantic feelings for Sue. The author effectively deals with the repercussions of this revelation by switching from Sues perspective to Mauds in the second part of the novel, and retelling many of the events experienced by Sue through Mauds point of view. This change in perspective has the effect of convincing the reader that Maud does have genuine feelings for Sue, because Maud, like Sue, expresses guilt and feelings of romantic love for Sue. For example, at the end of the first part of the novel when she is taken away by the doctors at the insane asylum, Sue describes Mauds gaze as hard as marble, hard as brass (184), creating the impression of Maud as cold and hard, thus amplifying the sense of betrayal and hurt. The reader sympathizes with Sues suffering and consequently readjusts their perception of Maud from an innocent girl to a cruel person who has no feelings for Sue whatsoever. In contrast, in the second part of the novel, Maud describes herself as [singing] out mechanically, together with fragmented sentences focusing on the details of Sues brown eyes with that darker fleck and tumbling hair, which creates the impression that she is still attracted to Sue and that she is deliberately numbing herself, closing off her own emotions in order to do this terrible thing to Sue. From Mauds perspective, the reader also sees that the trigger for her saying the lines starting Oh! My poor own mistress! is the fact that Gentleman takes [her] arm and presses, hard, upon [her] wrist, which transfers the agency of her betrayal, symbolized by those lines, from her to Gentleman. By presenting the same event from Mauds perspective, the author neutralizes the damage done in Sues perspective and allows the reader to sympathize relatively more with Maud and her feelings for Sue, which contributes to the reader being emotionally invested in their romantic relationship.

Liew 5 Moreover, by shifting to Mauds perspective in the second part of the novel, the author establishes the fact that Maud is completely aware that Sue has come to Briar to ruin [her], to cheat [her] and do [her] harm (294). Despite this, she still feels desire and longing for Sue (295-296). The author takes care to portray not only Mauds lust but also her romantic feelings for Sue. In the earlier stages of Sues stay at Briar House, the author reveals through the presentation of Mauds perspective on events that Maud focuses on and emphasizes Sues attractive qualities, implying that her love for Sue outweighs the fact that Sue is planning to ruin her life. For example, Maud spends a few long paragraphs describing how kindly Sue treats her: Another time, after sitting, I complain that my feet are chilled: she kneels before me, unlaces my slippers, takes my feet in her hands and holds and chafes them finally dips her head and carelessly breathes upon my toes. She has Margaret bring extra coals for my fires, from Mr Way. Such a simple thing to do! and yet no-one has thought to do it before, for my sake; even I have not thought to do it; and so I have gone cold, through seven winters. (267) The excessive, detailed manner in which Maud describes how Sue takes care of her implies that she is strongly moved by Sues kindness. She emphasizes the fact that no one except Sue has ever thought of keeping her warm during winter by bringing her extra coals, not even herself, which implies that Sue is a special person to her because Sue is the only person in the household who has ever cared enough about her. Her detailed description of Sues every movement as she warms her feet implies that she finds the intimacy of the gesture as new, interesting, and enjoyable. The fact that Maud is still capable of feelings of romantic love and lust for Maud despite the awareness that she is there to trick her strongly encourages the reader to interpret her romantic feelings for Sue as being deep and genuine and to sympathize with them.

Liew 6 Conversely, the most significant factor that makes it difficult for the reader to sympathize with her feelings is Mauds decision to continue with the plan despite being in love with Sue. The author again takes advantage of the opportunity to present the events from Mauds perspective to reveal to the reader Mauds own motivations and justifications for that particular decision. Waters portrays Mauds decision making process in such a way that encourages the reader to interpret Mauds decision to go ahead with the plan as caused by her love for Sue, instead of malice towards her. The author achieves this effect through the following process. First, Waters portrays Maud as possessing the desire to abort the plan completely, as she silently implores Sue to tell her a way to save [her](297). These lines show the reader that, for Maud, at that point in time, being in a romantic relationship with Sue is more important than the plan to get her fortune. Then, the author goes on to describe the sexual encounter between Sue and Maud, presenting it explicitly in Mauds perspective as a crucial turning point in terms of their relationship. The author reveals through Mauds perspective that Maud comes to believe, as a result of the sexual encounter, that she cannot possibly carry out the plot against Sue now, even going so far as to calculate and plan different strategies for the both of them to escape from Briar and go to London together (300). By detailing Mauds fantasies about confessing her plot to Sue and making a new life together with her in London, and by describing how Mauds heart leaps within [her] when Sue comes to her, the author encourages the reader to identify with Mauds rising expectations. Waters then introduces tension into the scene; Sue looks away and remains silent, which causes Maud to grow afraid (301). The tension reaches its peak when Maud introduces the ambiguous statement that she has had a dream with Sue in it, as a test of whether Sue wants to acknowledge their sexual encounter. Consequently, because of the way the author has built up the emotional intensity leading up to that moment, the reader is able to empathize with Mauds feelings when Sue rejects her by pretending the night before did not happen, causing Maud to be so devastated that she [sits] dazed for a moment, as if struck by [Sues] hand (301). The way the author highlights Mauds emotional suffering in this scene makes it easier for the reader to accept Mauds statement that she believes that Sue will leave her if she gives up the plot. Therefore, the reader is convinced when Maud justifies the fact that she continues with the plot because after their sexual

Liew 7 encounter by the fact she believes that Sue does not return her love and therefore trying to save her is futile because she will lose both Sue and her future in the process. The main problem with achieving this effect is that from Sues perspective in the first part of the book, Sue is presented as still having feelings of love and attraction for Maud, which, though necessary for the reader to perceive the attraction between them as mutual, is inconsistent with the portrayal of her as not genuinely having those feelings for Maud. Therefore, before the scene above occurs, it is equally necessary for the author to take the same events portraying Sue as someone who sincerely cares for Maud, and retell them from Mauds perspective in such a way that shows the reader that Maud perceives Sue as cold, uncaring, and focused more on her ulterior motives, in order to convince the reader that Mauds romantic feelings for Sue is indeed genuine and it is because she perceives that those feelings are not reciprocated that she proceeds with her plan to incarcerate Sue in the insane asylum. The author accomplishes this feat by writing both characters perspectives from the first person point of view in order to limit the readers access to Mauds thoughts when Sue is narrating and vice versa, making it much easier to create differing, even conflicting interpretations of the same events. One example is the scene where Maud asks Sue if she thinks Gentleman truly loves her (Maud). Sue replies that she knows it, but not before she justifies her statement to herself as not being a lie, as he loves her for her money [and] would die if he lost it now (131). Her mental repetition of the phrase its not a lie implies that she is feeling extremely guilty for lying to Maud, implying that she really cares for her inside. In contrast, the Sue that the reader sees from Mauds perspective does not flinch as she says she knows it (294). From Mauds perspective, Sue does not seem to feel any guilt at all and is focused solely on the plot to ruin her. Another example of how the author creates discrepancies between the two characters accounts of events is when Gentleman kisses Mauds palm. Sues perspective on the event reveals that that she is not glad to see him do it and is afraid that Maud might break or that Gentleman might swallow her up, indicating that she cares for Maud and does not like Gentleman touching her (125). In contrast, Maud response to the kiss is to shudder, with weakness, with fear and distaste with dismay, to

Liew 8 know Sue stands and watches, in satisfaction, thinking me his (292). The use of the word know implies certainty; Maud is portrayed as being absolutely certain that Sue is content to see her being tricked into what Sue thinks is their plot to steal her fortune. Another example of the way Waters creates conflicting interpretations of events is when Maud starts weeping before her mothers grave and Sue takes her to the chapel door. From Sues perspective, she does this because she wants to prevent Maud from being soaked (129), which shows the reader that she sincerely cares for Maud and does not want her to suffer. From Mauds perspective, however, she perceives the motivation for Sues actions as perhaps, to turn [Mauds] thoughts to marriage (293), which implies that Sue cares only about the success of what she thinks is the plot to trick Maud and steal her fortune. Another technique the author uses to create differing interpretation of events is through omission of certain key events, parts of dialogue, and actions. For instance, when Maud tells Sue that Gentleman has proposed to her, in Sues perspective, she responds to Maud with You might say no (132). This line implies that Sue is actually actively trying to save Maud, even though she undermines her own attempt a page later. The inclusion of this line in Sues perspective leads to greater understanding and sympathy of the reader towards her and her feelings for Maud. In Mauds perspective, this line is completely omitted, which creates the impression that Sue does not care for her as much as Maud does for her, thus highlighting the emotional suffering Maud undergoes, which leads the reader to sympathize with her and her eventual decision to continue with her plan to trick Sue. In another example, the scene where Maud kisses Sue on her wedding night with gentleman is completely omitted, and with it, the scene where Sue kisses her back, which implies that Sue is still attracted to her. In Mauds retelling of the events of that particular night, she apparently remembers nothing of it, and cuts directly to the scene where Sue tells her she must be different now that she is married, and then immediately leaves her. The omission of how Sue kisses her shows the reader that Maud perceives Sue as caring more about the plan to steal her fortune than about Maud. This retelling of the same event from Mauds event and the portrayal of Sue as cold and uncaring from Mauds perspective is important in order for the reader to be convinced that

Liew 9 Mauds decision to proceed with the plan to incarcerate Sue is because she believes that Sue does not love her back and by giving up the plan she would be losing both Sue and her future. Therefore, the switch in narrators from Sue to Maud and the retelling of the same events from different perspectives is essential to convince the readers that both Sue and Maud are genuinely romantically attracted to each other, and that their feelings for each other are mutual. There is another role the shift in perspective plays in leading the reader to sympathize with the two main characters romantic feelings for each other. The different perspectives, being presented from the first person point of view of both protagonists, also reveal parallels or similarities between Mauds and Sues thought processes that seem to hint at a emotional bond or connection between them. A broad example of this is the use of identical or similar phrases or metaphors, and this also contributes to the readers support of their relationship. For example, Mauds experience of their sexual encounter is expressed in the phrase to gather me, out of the darkness, out of my natural shape (299), which is an echo of Sues experience of it, shown through the phrase It was like I was calling the heat and shape of her out of the darkness (150). This similarity between their descriptions of the same event shows the reader that they are experiencing the same intense emotions as each other and that there is an emotional connection between them which is reflected in their use of the same type of imagery when describing the same events. The evidence of this emotional bond encourages the reader to believe that the attraction between them is mutual. Parallels between Mauds and Sues actions also accomplish the same effect. One example occurs during the scene where Sue is packing Mauds things for what she thinks is going to be Mauds permanent stay at the insane asylum. During this scene, Sues act of hiding Mauds glove over her heart is a parallel to Mauds act of hiding the silver thimble, which Sue used to smooth her tooth, at the bottom of her bag. Both characters are portrayed as being so in love with each other, despite the fact that they are plotting to harm each other, that both of them take items that are symbolic of each other to keep for themselves. The way Sues actions echo Mauds and vice versa implies that the attraction is mutual, thus leading the reader to sympathize with their romantic feelings for each other.

Liew 10 However, the reader still finds the relationship between Sue and Maud problematic, as the affection that Sue feels towards Maud is engendered during a period where Maud is pretending to be an innocent, kind girl. I argue that the revelation of Mauds true personality renders Sues attraction to her invalid, as throughout the first perspective, Sue implies that she is in love with Maud because of her innocence and kindness. Sues remark that Maud is sweet kind gentle and handsome and good supports this interpretation. After their first sexual encounter, Sue focuses on the crimson bruise on Mauds breast and the fact that it has been caused by a single kiss, implying that she perceives Maud as fragile and so pure that the slightest sexual contact is able to taint her. Moreover, throughout the novel, she repeatedly compares Maud to a pearl (133), which symbolizes innocence and purity. This revelation destabilizes the readers belief in the sincerity of her attraction towards Maud because the true Maud does not possess the characteristics of purity, innocence, and kindness that attracts Sue, as implied in the first part of the novel. Moreover, the third part of the novel focuses on the intense emotional and mental trauma Sue undergoes in the novel; Maud is the direct cause of Sues intense suffering and thus any romantic connection between them seems to be fraught with problems. The author deals with this by switching back to Sues perspective again and showing the reader that Sues obsession with Maud is ambivalent, showing signs of both love and hate. For example, she treats Mauds white glove as a treasured possession; once, she puts the tip of one of its fingers to [her] mouth, imagining Mauds soft hand inside it, and she bites it again and again (446). She describes Mauds hand as soft, implying that she still finds Maud attractive, and the biting seems to be an expression of both intense hatred and sexual frustration. Moreover, at the end of the novel, when Sue finds out that Mrs. Sucksby is the one who has betrayed her, she draws the readers focus to how Maud has tried her to save her the emotional pain of that revelation, and makes no mention at all after of her sufferings at the insane asylum, or how Maud has caused it. Her feelings of love and longing for Maud dominate the ending of the novel, and Maud is portrayed as reciprocating those feelings, which leads the reader to sympathize with their relationship

Liew 11 In short, there are three main ways in which the shift in perspectives lead the reader to sympathize with Sues and Mauds romantic feelings for each other. Sues attraction to Maud is established during her narration of events, while the reinterpretation of events in Mauds perspective convinces the reader of the sincerity of Mauds feelings for Sue and show the reader that even her decision to continue with her plan to incarcerate Sue is motivated by love for Sue. At the same time, parallels between the two characters narration reveal an emotional bond between the two. Thirdly, the last shift back to Sues perspective is essential to show that Sue still loves Maud despite all the suffering she has caused her. Combined, these three main effects cause the reader to sympathize with and support Sues and Mauds relationship. Bibliography Waters, Sarah. Fingersmith. New York: Riverhead Books, 2002.